University of Arizona Center for Innovation, USA
“Sponsored Launch”

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A partnership between a startup incubator network and a community organization, providing a sponsored year at the incubator plus cash prizes, allowing startups to take their idea of how to solve a significant business or social challenge to the next level.

Purpose of the solution

Sponsored Launch was created to provide more opportunities for startups to successfully launch into the marketplace, while also raising the level of community awareness and support for entrepreneurs at the local level. When economic development strategies include growing your own businesses, your community prospers. The Sponsored Launch programs provides a platform for organizations and municipalities to invest in small businesses while also receiving acknowledgement of their goodwill.

Impact

The Sponsored Launch program has successfully sponsored 12 companies, and provided $120,000 in cash prizes, service hours, and incubation fees. We have worked with seven collaborators to be able to make this impact. some have even repeated their offerings to provide additional startup support. This unique partnership between the incubator and community allows our areas of innovation to make more of an impact by expanding offerings and stretching resources out to the community. Therefore, with our support, startups meet the larger economic objective. When you support startups, you are also supporting jobs, the generation of innovation solutions for business and society's problems, and social mobility. The program has also increased public awareness and how vital it is to support startups and the need for business development support activities.

What is innovative about it?

Sponsored Launch is a competitive process and through this process we learn what startups are in the community seeking support. Research has proven that a startup connected to an incubator has a better chance of succeeding due to the support received. Connecting startups with the support they need through the UACI incubator, we solve the problem of decreasing the rate of startup business failure and easing the frustration of not knowing the next steps that entrepreneurs often feel. While only one startup can win the given competition at that time. We are very supportive of the other startups that apply and often reach out to them through other UACI touch points.

Who are the main users?

Governmental municipalities, chambers of commerce and businesses sponsors the program. Entrepreneurs benefit by having the cost of the incubation program covered for one-year by the community.

Who runs it?

The UACI assistant director runs the program by identifying collaborators, terms and conditions, promoting the competition, reviewing applications, organizing a judging panel, and announcing the winner. From there, the winning team is integrated into the UACI program and upon entry receives the full resources offered by UACI and the sponsoring organization.